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Mental Health

in Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health, Mobility, Stair Lifts, Stairlifts by Andrew Mackintosh Comments are off

Mental Health in Later Life

It will come as no surprise to learn that the great majority of Newbury Mobility’s customers are over the age of 60. This is, of course, the classic time when our mobility begins to become compromised and we start needing some help to get from A to B.

And while Newbury Mobility supplies equipment to assist people with their physical needs, what we don’t supply is anything to assist with mental or psychological need. But we do frequently witness the symptoms of it.

Mental Health is, thankfully, a topic which these days can be discussed openly and freely without fear of being ridiculed or scorned. To an extent, we have to thank for this a number of high profile celebrities who have had the courage to talk publicly about their own mental health issues, helping to raise awareness and improve understanding of this condition which, for those who suffer it, is no picnic.

For those of us of more mature years – which includes some of us at Newbury Mobility – this relatively enlightened attitude was not necessarily around when we were younger. Many will recall how any sort of Mental Health problems were regarded as something that was, literally, all in the mind. And that if we were only to pull ourselves together and show a bit of backbone, then all would be well.

Over the years, we have come to understand a great deal more about the causes of different kinds of Mental Health problems and how best to lessen their impact. While the topic is a very broad one, I wanted to concentrate on two particular elements that can particularly affect older people – anxiety and depression.

It is an irony that at an age when we should be looking forward to our retirement and winding down to a slower, more relaxed pace of life, our bodies and our minds have a tendency to thwart us. We want, to take a quick jog to the shops but that dodgy knee is saying no. We don’t want constantly to worry about how we’re going to pay the bills, but our pension never seems to stretch very far.

 

Bill Pic

 

Anxiety and depression are often inextricably linked, the first frequently leading to the second. And, when one is getting on a bit, there are many different ways they can be triggered including:

  • Losing a partner
  • The onset of a physical disability
  • Illness
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Lack of independence
  • Poverty
  • Loss of your job through retirement
  • Loss of your home
  • Loss of friends
  • Looking after a disabled spouse or partner

 

older-people-stats

 

Now, the fact is that we all feel fed up from time to time. So how can we tell the difference between being down in the dumps and being properly depressed?

Well, there are a number of warning signs:

  • Persistent sadness that just won’t go away
  • Constant fatigue and lack of energy
  • Losing interest in hobbies or pastimes that you used to enjoy
  • A reluctance to socialise or leave home
  • Persistent insomnia
  • Feelings of worthlessness and/or self-loathing
  • Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Fixation on death; suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Constant feelings of anxiety
  • Neglecting your personal care

 

If any of these symptoms persist for a long time or begin to have an effect on the way you think and behave, then it’s time to seek help and advice.

There are lots of places to find more information – here and here for example – but your GP should also be a first port of call.

Don’t, whatever you do, feel reluctant or ashamed about talking about it.

GPs are very clued up about Mental Health these days and are able to offer many different ways of helping. Yes, there are drugs that can help, but there are also a number of different therapies available that can be of great benefit.

In addition, just talking about it to friends and family can be of enormous benefit. You may well be surprised by just how many people tell you how they too have suffered from some aspect of poor Mental Health.

 

Holding Hands Pic

 

So are there any measures we can take to prevent anxiety and depression taking hold in the first place?

There sure are.

  • Exercise – OK, you’re not as fit and active as you once were, but even small amounts of exercise can be a really effective way to prevent or tackle depression. There are also exercises you can do even if your mobility is quite badly impaired. There are some good ideas here.

 

  • Socialise – Sometimes when we’re feeling down, the last thing we want to do is get out and mix with other people. But if you can get over that “hump” it can sometimes be the thing that lifts your spirits immeasurably. Can’t get out? Then invite people to come to you. Even speaking to people over the phone or using something like Skype can be of benefit. You also might want to consider joining a depression support group. They’re not for everyone, but some people find that they can be of enormous benefit.

 

  • Get enough sleep. Sometimes one of the symptoms of depression can be insomnia. Which is really rough. But if you’re not getting enough sleep just because you’re not getting to bed early enough, it can make you feel constantly tired and fed up during the day. Might sound a bit obvious but if you try going to bed a bit earlier, you might find that it makes you feel so much better.

 

  • Eat well. Avoid sugar! And food and drinks that contain sugar! Eat food that provides you with good nutrition. You might want to take a vitamin supplement as well. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make.

 

  • Get a pet. Dog, cat, pig, python. Doesn’t matter really. Pets are a classic and proven way to reduce the effects of anxiety and depression.

 

Finally, remember this – depression is not a normal part of ageing and it’s not something that you should feel that you just have to put up with. There are many, many ways of fighting it and winning so that you can properly enjoy your life during those later years.

 

Dancing Couple Pic

 

When I said earlier that we don’t supply anything to assist with good mental health, perhaps I was wrong. After all, stairlifts and other mobility equipment help you to remain independent, allow you to stay living in your own home, help you to socialise and can give you back your dignity.

So, if not being able to go upstairs is getting you down, give us a call. We’re always glad to hear from you and there are many ways in which we might be able to help to brighten your day.

We look forward to hearing from you here at Newbury Mobility.

All the very best

Andy and the team

 

 

 

 

History of Stair Lifts

in Mobility, Stair Lifts, Stairlifts by Andrew Mackintosh Comments are off

Stair Lifts – A History

Hauling Henry

These days, we’ve become used to, reliable, safe, well-constructed, state-of-the-art stair lifts that come with sophisticated electronics and hand-held remote controls. We take for granted that a stair lift can usually be installed even when the stair case is an awkward or unusual shape. We don’t blink an eye when stair lifts are installed outside buildings.

Needless to say, it wasn’t always this way.

It’s impossible to say precisely who invented the stair lift or exactly when the first one was made but there is some evidence, by way of a list of his possessions, to suggest that King Henry VIII had something akin to a “Throne Lift” installed in the Whitehall Palace in London which was, at the time, the main residence of English monarchs. (Until it was all but destroyed by fire in 1698.)

 

Palace of Whitehall

Whitehall Palace

 

Henry in his earlier life had been a keen sportsman with a passion for hunting and jousting but with that came inevitable injury and he suffered two quite serious leg injuries. He sustained the second one in his forties in a jousting accident that very nearly killed him.

The injury never healed properly, becoming ulcerated and painful, and prevented him from pursuing his former sporting passions. Henry had always been an enthusiastic consumer of food and wine and now, without physical activity to hold it in check, his weight ballooned until he eventually weighed between 28 and 30 stone.

 

Henry_VIII_(5)_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger

 

Pity then the poor servants who had to haul him upstairs upon his “Throne Lift” using nothing more than a block and tackle arrangement – and their own muscles.

The Inclin-ator

Fast forward some 400 hundred years to the 1920s and we meet a Cadillac car dealer from Pennsylvania by the name of C. C. Crispen who enjoyed dabbling in engineering as a hobby.

 

C C Crispen

 

A friend of his had become immobilised due to Polio and was largely confined to the upstairs of his home. So Crispen came up with the idea of a seat on rollers connected to a rail that ran the length of the stair case and which was operated by a cable mechanism and powered by electricity.

He called this The Inclin-ator and it worked so well that he developed the idea until it eventually gave birth to the Inclinator Company of America, which still exists to this day. (But which, ironically, no longer makes stair lifts, concentrating instead on vertical lifts.)

 

Inclinator

 

However, not only did it give birth to the company, it also gave birth to the word “Inclinator” which, while notably absent from all reputable dictionaries, has nonetheless been adopted by Americans, in particular, to describe anything that goes up and down: elevators, lifts, stair lifts etc.

(A bit like the way they’ve adopted the word burglarize to mean burgle. Why use two syllables when you can add a pointless extra one for free? What next? I’ve just been muggered?)

Fun with Funiculars

Inclinator is also used by our American cousins to describe what we Brits would call a funicular railway. Funiculars, though, always have two cars attached to each other by a cable that runs through a pulley at the top of the steep slope upon which the railway is laid. The two cars, one ascending and one descending, counter balance each other thus minimizing the amount of energy required to lift the car going up. Bournemouth still has three funicular railways running which are not to be missed if you’re ever visiting. Brilliant concept but probably not want you want in your home!

 

Courtesy of Bournemouth Tourism

Courtesy of Bournemouth Tourism

 

But anyway – hats off to old C. C. Crispen. All of us at Newbury Mobility have seen many, many different kinds of stair lifts in our time and we’ve come across some pretty ancient ones as well. All of them, though, are essentially refinements or adaptations of Mr Crispen’s first prototype. So he pretty much nailed the concept first time.

Veteran Vehicles

And while we’ve been taking this historical tour, we’ve also been remembering some of the ancient mobility scooters we occasionally encounter when we visit to make a free site survey or to install a stairlift.

Some of you will remember the old “Invalid Carriage” which thankfully we don’t see on the roads anymore due to it being, some might say, a bit of a deathtrap.

 

Invalid Carriage

 

What we do occasionally see though, are old Batricars, some of which appear still to be going strong.

 

Batricar

 

Those that aren’t often achieve a second life by being converted into Toylanders.

 

Toylander

Courtesy of The Toylanders Owners club

 

None of us at Newbury Mobility need a Toylander. Indeed, we’re all rather too big. But we all really, really want one.

One day perhaps.

Meanwhile, we look forward to hearing from anyone in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire or Hampshire who has a stair lift, ancient or new, and who requires a repair or service. Or anyone who wants to have a chat about having a used or new stairlift installed in their home.

We’re no more than an hour away, after all.

All the very best

Andy and the team.

 

 

 

Disabled Facilities Grant

in DFG, Disabled Facilities Grant, Mobility, Stairlifts by Andrew Mackintosh Comments are off

Obtaining a Stair Lift with a Disabled Facilities Grant

We recently took a look at the cost of stair lifts and explained how Newbury Mobility is able to offer basic, straight, used stair lifts from as little as £895.00.

But what happens to all those folks for whom even £895.00 is just too much to raise? (And if that’s you, never fear – you’re far from being alone.)

 

Spiral Staircase

 

Well, if you find yourself getting dizzy trying to work out how you can possibly afford such a thing, there is help to be found out there, even in these days of austerity and privation.

Your first port of call should be to make a Disabled Facilities Grant application to your Local Authority. This is normally referred to as a “DFG”.

Now, it’s important not to confuse a DFG with a BFG because that’s really not the same thing at all. Although to be fair the difference is quite noticeable.

 

Not the same as a DFG

Not the same as a DFG

 

Disabled Facilities Grants are made to disabled people who are finding it difficult to move safely, comfortably and independently through their own home and who intend to live in the same property for the next five years.

Such grants can be made either to people who own their home, or to people who have some sort of tenancy, which could be council, private or housing association. If you are a tenant, then you will need the permission of your landlord before your local authority will agree to help you, but a landlord cannot refuse permission unreasonably. (Landlords can apply on behalf of a disabled tenant if they wish.)

In England, the maximum amount that can be awarded for a DFG is £30,000 but if you’re looking for a stair lift, that should more than cover it. (Unless you want one made of gold, of course.)

Do I qualify?

Your local authority will need to establish that there is a genuine need and that the equipment or the adaptations sought are necessary and appropriate to your needs. The property will also have to be capable of having a stair lift fitted, which may sound a little obvious, but not all properties are.

 

Probably not suitable for a stair lift

Probably not suitable for a stair lift

 

They will normally arrange for an Occupation Therapist to carry out an assessment to establish eligibility.

DFGs are also means-tested so your local authority will need to know about your household’s financial circumstances. The amount awarded will be affected by your household income and if you have over £6000 in savings, in which case you may well be asked to make a contribution towards the DFG. Certain benefits, including DLA and Income Support are, however, generally ignored.

How do I apply?

Contact your local authority. You can find yours by following this link. They will send you a form to fill in and return to them.

If you need assistance with completing the form, a Home Improvement Agency can help, but be aware that some may charge a fee if your application is successful. Home Improvement Agencies are set up to ensure that people are able to stay safe and secure in their own home. They offer a whole range of helpful services, including Handymen, and they are overseen by “Foundations”, a body appointed by the Department of Communities and Local Government. You can find your local Housing Improvement Agency, along with lots more useful information on their website.

How does the grant get paid?

Depending on the project, you’ll either be paid in instalments as the work progresses, or in full when all of the work has been completed. It may be that the local authority will pay the contractor direct rather than paying you and you then paying the contractor, but all of that will have been agreed prior to the commencement of the work. Obviously, the local authority won’t release funds until they are happy with the completed project.

It’s worth noting that if a relative or friend carries out the work for you, it is likely that the local authority will only pay for materials.

The attention-303861_1280other very important thing to note is that you should never start any work on your home until the council has approved your application. Otherwise it is possible that you will receive nothing at all.

 

 

Can my local authority turn me down due to a lack of available funds?

Not if you meet all of the legal and financial criteria. DFGs are mandatory, which means that no local authority can turn you down simply because they’re strapped for cash.

How long will it take?

Well, with the best will in the world, this process often takes quite a while. But there are regulations in place that set out time limits for decisions about DFGs and payments. Once your fully completed application has been received by your local authority, the clock starts ticking. They will give you a decision in writing as soon as possible, and not later than within six months.

Once a decision has been made, things normally proceed in a fairly orderly fashion, although that will depend to an extent on how many recent applications your council has received. It is possible that payment can be delayed for up to twelve months from the date of the application, although that is quite unusual.

You can help make the whole thing go as rapidly as possible by providing all of the necessary information at the outset. For instance:

  • Your completed DFG application form
  • Your completed Owner’s and/or Tenant’s Certificate
  • Written permission from the landlord for work to be undertaken if applicable
  • Two quotes or estimates for the work
  • Your National Insurance number

 

Newbury Mobility is always more than happy to provide free estimates for the installation of a stairlift and, because all of our customers are within no more than an hour’s drive from Newbury in Berkshire, you can be assured that should your application for a DFG be successful, we will carry out the work swiftly to ensure you experience no further delay. Contact us to arrange a free site survey.

What happens if I am rejected?

If your application has been rejected, yet you feel that you still match the criteria, you can appeal by asking your local council for their appeals and complaints procedure.

If your appeal is rejected but you still feel unhappy with the decision, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Where can I get more help?

If you’re struggling with making your application for a DFG, there is help available. As already mentioned, you can get assistance from a Home Improvement Agency, but there are also a number of occupational charities that may be able to assist you.

For example, if you are or were in the Civil Service, the organisation “For You By You” may well be able to help. If you work now or used to work in banking, the Bank Workers Charity is there for you. And if you are or were a member of the armed forces (including having done National Service) or you are the dependant of such a person, The Royal British Legion is there to give you a hand.

(Some of these organisations may also be able to help if you have been awarded only a partial grant and are struggling to keep up with your financial contributions.)

There are many such organisations out there and the place to search for them is the fantastic resource that we’ve mentioned before and will no doubt mention many times again provided by Turn2Us.

I’ve tried everything but at the end of the day, I’ve just got too much dosh!

Well, in that case, we salute you. But remember that if you are thinking of buying a stair lift privately and live in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire or Hampshire, Newbury Mobility should be your first port of call for fantastic value and the friendliest customer service you’ll find throughout four counties.

So there, you go. All you could possibly wish to know about DFGs. We hope all of the preceding has been of some help to you and that it hasn’t been too dry and boring and it hasn’t sent you off into the land of nod.

Snoozing Cat

 

We look forward to hearing from you soon. Once you’re awake again, of course.

All the very best

Andy and the team.

 

 

 

 

Stair Lift Malfunctions

in Malfunctions, Mobility, Stairlifts, Tips by Andrew Mackintosh Comments are off

My Stair Lift has a life of its own!

So, hands up who remembers the movie, “Poltergeist”? Released in 1982, it may seem a little dated now that we’re living in an age of such sophisticated special effects. But in its day, it had the ability to genuinely scare many viewers and, if I’m completely honest, it still has moments in it when I’m tempted to hide behind the sofa.

A poltergeist (German for “Rumbling Ghost”) is generally thought to be a ghost or some other malevolent spirit that enjoys making objects move around the house or even fly through the air. They also can be pretty noisy when the mood takes them, apparently.

 

Poltergeist-Therese_Selles

 

Far be it from us to say whether or not poltergeists really exist (they don’t) but what happens when something as big as your stairlift appears to have developed a life of its own?

It’s not exactly common, but there have been instances where stairlifts will begin to operate entirely of their own volition without any buttons having been pressed.

Pretty creepy if your stair lift starts to move of its own accord, not to say just ever so slightly disturbing.

So does this mean that spirits from another dimension are being mischievous because your house was built on the site of an old cemetery? Are you going to have to call in your local version of Tangina Barrons to lead them back into the light?

Well, the answer’s a little more technical than that but no less interesting for us grease monkeys at Newbury Mobility.

The culprit is the humble, common-or-garden lightbulb. Not the old-fashioned incandescent type, but the more modern, low-energy CFL bulb.

 

CFL Bulb

 

To explain, let’s first take a quick look at hand-held remote controls.

The remote control for your television uses infrared waves to communicate with the TV itself. Infrared lies within the electromagnetic spectrum and is really useful for controlling electrical equipment wirelessly. The control unit can be programmed to send strings of binary code in the form of infrared pulses. Different codes will mean different things e.g. volume up or volume down and can be made specific to different brands and different items of equipment. This is why you can use your TV’s remote control without it having an effect on your DVD player, for instance.

 

TV Remote

 

Infrared is also fairly short range and can’t travel through walls the way that radio waves can. This means that when you’re bored watching Desperate Housewives and switch over to Emmerdale, you’re not doing the same thing to your next door neighbour’s tele.

The remote control for your stair lift works in exactly the same way. You point the remote at your stairlift and pulses of binary code are sent to instruct it go up or down.

Back now to low-energy bulbs. These can, occasionally, produce unwanted pulses of infrared light. You can’t see them – your pet rattlesnake can, but you can’t – but if those pulses happen to be one of the binary codes that controls your stair lift then it will, in its faithful and loyal way, respond to those controls. It thinks it’s just doing what you asked, after all.

These light-bulb pulses can also be responsible for masking or confusing the pulses from your stair lift’s hand held remote control unit so that the stair lift simply won’t function correctly or obey your commands.

Some stair lifts controls work using radio waves rather than infrared, but even these aren’t immune from interference from light bulbs. In this case, LED lights are usually the culprit.

 

LED Bulb

 

LED lights have lots of advantages, one of the greatest being that they are very cheap to run.

They’re also cheap to manufacture, particularly if you take shortcuts in the process.

There are a great number of LED bulbs on the market – some branded by major household names – that fail to meet any kind of standardised testing and indeed there is some confusion as to what this testing ought to be. The European Union is actively looking into this but I wouldn’t hold your breath for action to be taken any time soon.

LED bulbs require something called a switched-mode power-supply. In order to cut costs, some manufacturers deliberately leave out some filter components from these power-supplies, resulting in a great deal of conducted emissions and harmonics that can interfere with a number of other pieces of equipment that use radio waves.

It doesn’t make the bulbs dangerous exactly. They’re just sending out quite significant amounts of unwanted electromagnetic interference.

DAB radios are the most common victims of this and there are increasing instances where people’s DAB radios don’t work until nearby LED lights are switched off. Stair lift remote controls can similarly be affected.

So should you be worried?

The answer to that is an emphatic ‘no’. It’s not that common an issue with stair lifts but should it happen to you, you know what to do.

It’s not The Bell Witch of Tennessee or The Black Monk of Pontefract.

Just turn off any nearby lights and your stair lift should once again be a slave to your command.

Of course, as you know by now, if you have any problems or any concerns with your stairlift and you live in Berkshire, Oxford, Hampshire or Wiltshire, you only have to dial 01635 229228 and we’ll be only too happy to help.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

Casper

 

All the very best

Andy and the team.

 

 

 

Stair Lift Cost

in Costs, Mobility, Stairlifts by Andrew Mackintosh Comments are off

How Much Does a Stair Lift Cost?

It seems that not a day passes without one of us at Newbury Mobility being asked the question, “So what’s the cheapest used stair lift you can supply?”

It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to ask – after all, we all like to get value for money do we not? But then, like most things in life, you only get what you pay for.

Well, firstly, if you’re looking to buy a very cheap, reconditioned curved stairlift, then you may well be disappointed. Curved stairlifts tend to be bespoke simply because very few curved stair cases are precisely the same. The costs involved to modify a used curved stairlift will therefore normally outweigh any benefits of buying second hand.

However… Newbury Mobility, unlike most other Stairlift suppliers, is able to design and fit bespoke track for a customer’s staircase. This means that we are often able to fit reconditioned curved stairlifts in situations where other companies will only offer new. That isn’t to say that we can guarantee being able to supply a used curved stair lift, but we will consider it as a possibility. Please contact us for more details if you think this might be an option for you. Prices for Stairlifts with bespoke track start at £2995.00 including manufacture, delivery, installation, demonstration and 24-month labour and parts guarantee. But always best to compare the price of a used curved stair lift with a new one. The difference might be negligible.

Supplying reconditioned and used straight stairlifts is considerably more…er…straightforward. (See what I did there?) Nevertheless, there are still many issues to take into consideration which could potentially bump the costs up. What are the landings like? Will radiators need to be moved? Will windowsills or skirting-boards need to be trimmed? Are there doors, thresholds, banister rails or any other potential obstructions near the staircase? Do you have any special needs in terms of seating or controls? Does the chair need to accommodate extra weight?

Don’t worry – you don’t have to answer all those questions yourself – that’s what the initial free site survey is all about. But all of these potential extras will inevitably increase the price.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that it is a very simple installation with absolutely no extra requirements.

As a small local independent supplier we do everything we can to keep our overheads low. We only work with UK sources and local customers and as such, our transportation and delivery costs are also kept to a minimum. (For more information on our low charges please see Our Price Promise Guarantee.)

That being said, as a responsible company, we have a duty of care to ensure that your stair lift is safe and reliable and that we give our customers the best solution to fit their individual circumstances.

Using our 25 years’ experience supplying used and new stairlifts, we have calculated that the bottom line for a used straight stair lift (where there are no complications or special needs) starts at –

Are you ready?

£895.00 including installation, plus one year’s warranty, plus your first year’s service (worth £69.00) free.

That number again –

 

Balloons Price

Any cheaper and we wouldn’t be able to cover our costs – or we would have to offer stair lifts that are, frankly, past their sell-by dates. And that is something that we will never, ever do.

Still a lot of money I hear you say. Yes, but ever so slightly cheaper than having to move home.

What’s more, in a recent survey by The Consumers’ Association, they found that the average price paid for a second-hand stairlift is £1,490. So you can see that Newbury Mobility is able to offer fantastic value for money. Of course, only if you live in Newbury, Thatcham, Oxford, Swindon, Reading and surrounding areas.

So how else might you be able to reduce the amount of money you have to spend on a stairlift?

Well, remember that if you’re disabled or have a long-term illness, you won’t be charged VAT on products designed or adapted for your own personal or domestic use. You won’t be charged VAT on the installation and any extra work needed as part of this. In addition, you won’t be charged VAT on repairs and maintenance or spare parts and accessories. You will need to confirm in writing that you meet these conditions – but we can give you a form for this and can help you to complete it.

You might also be eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant from your local council. Click here to learn more. You can also contact your local Home Improvement Association for assistance. More information here.

If you need further assistance with funding, check out the fantastic resource provided by Turn2us which gives comprehensive information on grants and benefits.

Finally, a word on running costs. It has been estimated that the average annual running costs for a stairlift is…£7.26. £7.26 a year!!

Check out this rather splendid infographic from Stannah to see what else £7.26 buys you. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

 

What-can-you-get-for-£7

 

If you have any questions at all about buying or using a new or reconditioned Stairlift, and you live in Berkshire, Oxford, Hampshire or Wiltshire, please do give us a call on 01635 229228. We will be happy to help. And remember, we provide 24 months warranty on all new Stairlifts and 12 months warranty on all reconditioned Stairlifts.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

All the very best

Andy and the team.

 

(Image courtesy of Stannah Stairlifts)

(Good Consumer Association article on buying a stair lift here.)

 

 

 

Newbury Bypass

in Uncategorised by Andrew Mackintosh Comments are off

Twenty Years of the Newbury Bypass

 

Newbury Bypass Sign

 

Driving south down the A34, bypassing the old market town of Newbury, it’s easy to forget that twenty years ago, this was the site of one of the greatest – and most costly – anti-road protests in European history.

Some of us here at Newbury Mobility have lived in the area long enough clearly to remember the impassioned protests against the construction of the Newbury Bypass, and the accompanying furore.

While the Newbury Mobility blog is not the place to debate the pros and cons of the bypass, both the planning and the construction processes were highly controversial and ultimately had a significant effect on the road planning that followed.

It runs through an area previously designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest as well as an Area of Outstanding National Beauty. It also runs through the site of the first Battle of Newbury of 1643, and a National Trust nature reserve. 360 acres of land were cleared and 10,000 mature trees were felled to make way for the dual-carriageway.

However, in an admittedly completely unscientific survey conducted here in the offices of Newbury Mobility, the impression is that the bypass has succeeded in reducing travel time to areas surrounding Newbury and has also reduced the enormous volume of traffic that used to crawl its way through the town itself.

Also interesting to note is that, in terms of the inevitable environmental destruction that was wrought, the 200,000 trees that were planted to replace the 10,000 that were felled, are now beginning to mature. (Did the Newbury bypass tree-huggers change anything? – Great article on the BBC’s website by Linda Serck with lots of interesting video clips.)

If you’re interest in reading more, there is another good article from The Guardian here that explores the legacy of the bypass.

 

Newbury Bypass Canal Bridge

 

“All Things Must Pass,” as the late great George Harrison said, and these days most of us tend to take the Newbury Bypass for granted, rarely giving it a second thought. But next time you’re whizzing along it, see if you can spot the one surviving oak tree, known as Middle Oak, perched above the Northbound carriageway, just by the services.

One thing we can say without fear of contradiction or being controversial is that Newbury is a great town and a wonderful place to live – as is the surrounding area. We wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else and it allows us to get to all of our customers in Berkshire, Oxfordshire Wiltshire and Hampshire easily. We look forward to seeing you some time soon.

All the best

Andy and The Team

 

 

Clogging up the Works

in Mobility, Stairlifts, User Manuals by Andrew Mackintosh Comments are off

Clogging up the Works

In my last post about User Manuals and Safety Warnings, I suggested that in future I might share with you some of the mishaps that the customers of Newbury Mobility have experienced – despite all those safety warnings.

Well blow me done with a feather and no mistake guvnor, but this very week we were called out by a customer who reported that her stair lift was completely jammed and simply wouldn’t go.

It didn’t exactly take us long to diagnose what the problem was when we arrived. Hanging from the seat was a duvet. Most of a duvet anyway. The rest of it was stuck fast in the stairlift mechanism.

The customer, who shall of course remain nameless, sheepishly explained that she had brought the duvet downstairs earlier on that night because, let’s face it, winter has finally arrived with a vengeance, and she didn’t want to be cold while she watched tele.

Then, when it was time for bed, she had decided to go upstairs, still wrapped up all snug and warm in her duvet.

This is what we in the trade tend to call A BAD IDEA.

Look, there are no two ways about it – getting old is tough. You can’t hear so well anymore, your eyesight’s getting progressively worse (and you can never remember where you put your glasses), your knees creak and your hips ache, you need to use the loo more frequently and your teeth have developed minds of their own.

 

This is what I’ll probably look like not so many years from now

This is what I’ll probably look like not so many years from now

 

On top of that, elderly people are constantly being told to make sure they stay warm enough in winter and yet, the price of heating their homes when it’s turned properly cold outside is something that many pensioners find very difficult to afford.

We understand this at Newbury Mobility because most of our lovely customers are getting on a bit. But nevertheless, please, please don’t be tempted to wear a duvet when using your stair lift. Or any other loose and long-hanging clothing for that matter – like your favourite Dr Who scarf, for instance.

Or you could end up like Isadora Duncan, the so-called ‘Mother of Modern Dance’ who, in 1927, came to an untimely end when her long, flowing scarf became caught in the rear-wheel spokes of an open-topped French Amilcar. You can imagine the outcome.

 

1920s Amilcar

1920s Amilcar

 

Mercifully, most modern stairlifts are carefully designed to help prevent the possibility of clothing becoming caught or entangled in the mechanism and their overall safety record is very high. They have to be manufactured and tested to conform to the latest European and British safety standards and they go through rigorous testing and analysis to ensure critical factors of safety are achieved throughout the design and manufacture process.

That being said, you can design and test a stair lift ‘til it’s blue in the face but you can still manage to get something trapped in the mechanism if you try hard enough.

So best to err on the side of caution, wouldn’t you agree?

(If you’d like further information on stair lift safety, you can check out the RICA (Research Institute for Consumer Affairs) website. Or you can contact us or call on 01635 229228.)

Anyway, back to our sheepish customer.

Shouldn’t take long to fix this thought I, as I surveyed the wreckage of her duvet. Oh, how wrong could I have been?!

Cutting away the majority was the work of a couple of minutes but then, removing the rest turned into a bit of a jolly old nightmare. The fabric had become comprehensively jammed in the mechanism and it turns out that cloth can be remarkably strong when it puts its mind to it. No amount of pulling and tugging had any effect whatsoever.

The lift had reached the top landing so at least our friend had been able to clamber off and wasn’t stuck, like Kermit, half way up the stairs for the night. However, because hers is a custom-made curved stair lift, the screws and bolts that we would normally access to manually remove the carriage were obscured by the stair lift mechanism itself. So our only option was to dismantle the entire track from the bottom up, in order to free the mechanism. And then we had to pretty much reinstall the whole thing.

Here – let me share my pain with you. (Personally I can only look at this through my fingers.)

 

It’s amazing how strong fabric can be

It’s amazing how strong fabric can be

 

Thankfully, because we’re never more than an hour away from any of our customers throughout Berkshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, we were able to get out to her promptly so she wasn’t stuck upstairs for ages without so much as a cuppa.

In all, we were there for a good two hours, which, considering the work involved, actually wasn’t too bad. So no harm done in the end, thank goodness.

And she did make us lots of cups of coffee.

 

Coffee is always a good idea

 

All part of a typical day’s work at Newbury Mobility.

Not.

 

All the very best,

Andy and the Team

 

 

 

Stair Lift User Manuals

in Mobility, Stairlifts, Tips, User Manuals by Andrew Mackintosh Comments are off

Stair Lift User Manuals – What They Don’t Tell You

The other day, a client asked me a specific question about the remote control on his newly-fitted straight stair lift. So I opened up the User Manual at the relevant page and explained to him what each button is for and how best to use them.

It struck me as I was doing so that I haven’t actually read a user manual – not properly anyway – in a fair while.

Now, while that might seem a little strange, the thing is, when you’ve been in the business for as long as all of us here at Newbury Mobility have, you come to know the equipment inside out. So you carry most of the knowledge around inside your head and to be honest, it’s much, much more extensive than the information given in a User Manual.

That being said, I thought it might be quite interesting to give myself a refresher so when I got home, I sat down and read a manual from cover to cover to see what I might be missing.

User Manual

I’ve never written a User Manual and I have to say, I don’t envy those whose job it is to produce them. The challenge appears to be to provide all of the essential information without overwhelming the user with stuff they don’t need to know and will never use. But woe betide you if you miss out something vital.

The first thing that struck me was that some of the Warnings and Precautions seemed a little…er…how do I put this nicely?

Obvious?

A bit like the warning on a Swedish chain-saw that read, “Do not stop chain by hand.”

Or the caution on an American-made PVC water bed that said, “This item is not to be eaten.”

But then again, you’d be amazed at some of things that people manage to do. (We might share some of those with you in future posts!).

And let’s face it, we all have our “D’oh!” moments.

homer-simpson-doh

So, when you see a warning in a user manual not to pour hot tea into the electronic controls of your stair lift, that’s because there are people out there who will happily say. “But you never told me I shouldn’t pour hot tea into the electronic controls of my stairlift, so it’s all your fault.”

And of course, in this litigious age, with TV adverts encouraging us to sue for compensation, manufacturers and suppliers have to be very careful that they don’t make themselves vulnerable to being taken to court.

Don’t get me wrong – if a manufacturer or supplier does something wrong or is careless or negligent, then they should get everything they deserve. But sometimes it would be nice if common sense were to prevail. Or is that me just getting old?

Anyway –

While there’s nothing we like more than visiting our lovely customers throughout Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Hampshire, I thought it might be helpful if I were to share some little fault-finding and problem-solving tips with you. So that if a pesky problem does occur, you might just be able to fix it yourself.

 

Seat 2

 

Number 1 – Stair lift won’t go

Without wishing to insult your intelligence, is the key under the arm rest switched to “on”? (This is a classic D’oh! moment which we’ve seen happen a squillion times – so if it happens to you, don’t worry. You are not alone!)

 

Number 2 – Stairlift going slow

If your stair lift is moving slower than continental drift and error code “n” is flashing on your diagnostic display, the most likely reason is that your batteries are coming to the end of their useful life. Which means that you’re going to have to give us a call on 01635 229228 so that we can supply new ones. Sorry – can’t do this one yourself, so get the kettle on. We’ll be with you shortly.

 

Number 3 – Bleeping Stairlift and Error Code 2

That bleeping stair lift! Well…this just means the poor thing is hungry. If you’ve got Error Code 2 with a bleeping sound, then it’s not charging – even though it’s been parked on the charging point. In this case, check that the power is switched on/plugged in and that there is a green light on the charger. If not, and there are no other obvious reasons like power cuts or a fuse tripped, then it’s time to call us on 01635 229228 and get that kettle on again. Because we’re really not very far away.

 

Number 4 – Stair lift won’t go again

Check that the large black power switch on the base of the unit is switched to “on”. Also, if there is a large red button to the side of your seat, check that it is not pushed in.

 

Number 5 – Error Codes 4 and 6

Both of these codes mean that the footplate safety edge function has activated. Check that there are no obvious obstructions and then place your hands either side of the foot plate and push to the left and right. (Or get someone else to do this for you.) That should reset the function and allow the stairlift to move again. If not…well, you know the drill by now.

 

So, I hope that some of these might be of some use to you.

Unlike the warning on a set of Chinese Christmas lights that said, “For indoor and outdoor use only.”

Or the rather baffling instructions on a Japanese-made food processor that read, “Not to be used for the other use.”

We’ll share some more useful tips with you in future posts but meanwhile I will leave you with this – once, when fitting a stair lift in a client’s home, I noticed a hand-written warning stuck onto a wall above a power socket which simply said, “Don’t.”

So I didn’t.

 

All the very best,

Andy and the Team

 

 

Welcome

in Mobility, Stairlifts by Andrew Mackintosh Comments are off

Welcome

Hello and a Warm Welcome to our new, improved Newbury Mobility website.

There’s lots of great information in these pages from advice on the best, most cost-effective Stairlift that’s perfect for you and your home, to guidance on where to get help with funding. And pretty much everything Stairlift related in-between!

If you can’t find information on a specific topic, then please do get in touch. Our friendly, experienced professionals will be only too happy to help and point you in the right direction.

If you’re looking to buy a new or reconditioned Stairlift for either a straight or a curved stairway – or even if you’ve got a Stairlift that needs to be dismantled and removed, we’re here to help.

And when it comes to repairing or servicing your Stairlift, our prices and our service are hard to beat.

We’re proud to have been serving the areas of Berkshire, Wiltshire – and most of Oxfordshire and Hampshire – for the past 23 years. Our policy has always been to travel no further than one hour’s drive from Newbury, where we’re based. This means that we can respond quickly and efficiently in the event that your Stairlift develops a problem.

“Close Enough to Care”, is our motto and we’ve made sure that we’ve never forgotten that over the years.

We have many happy customers who stick with us because they like what we do. Check out what some of them have to say on our Home Page or, better still, find out for yourself! Give us a call and arrange an appointment or a free survey today.

And make sure that you check back on this page regularly. We’re going to be keeping you updated with lots of interesting information on the world of mobility and how to help people with physical impairments get the most out of life. We look forward to welcoming you back to these pages very soon.

All the very best.

Andy and the Team.